David Harsanyi
Don't for a second believe that a politician is destined to lose re-election simply because he has been an unmitigated disaster. That would be unfair to your senator or your congressman, and it certainly wouldn't be fair to countless two-term presidents. Any elected official can overcome self-induced failure with a little help.

And it doesn't hurt to pray: "Dear Lord, may the contemptible swine on the other side nominate someone even less palatable than I."

Republicans shouldn't fool themselves. Given the GOP's deeply flawed slate of primary candidates, our president can win a second term -- which, without doubt, would be more imperial and consequential than the first. There is no savior. No Ronald Reagan. No Chris Christie. (Or is there? Nah. ... Maybe!)

But at some point, Republican voters will have to ask themselves, Do we want to win, or do we want to see the Environmental Protection Agency start fining businesses for dust bunnies? Economists talk about trade-offs -- situations that involve losing one quality in return for gaining another quality elsewhere. Is there a trade-off worth making here?

The traditional media narrative is that Republicans have become too conservative. I doubt it. The backlash against bailouts, dependency programs, overregulation and deficit spending is in line with much of the Republican Party's newfound focus. On the broad dispute over economic freedom and the role of government in our lives, President Barack Obama is losing. Polls show that Americans like him personally, but his presidency is, at this point, dramatically unpopular. We can infer that his policies, not his personality, are the problem. Empirical evidence demands it.

So which Republican candidate has the intelligence, the populist appeal, the charisma, a grasp of policy and fresh ideas to offer in place of the ones crippling the nation? Which candidate has the talent to convince millions of more or less apolitical voters that free market solutions and deregulatory policy are the best way to spur economic growth? Which one has the chops to convince them that reforms to Social Security or Medicare are necessary?

There isn't one.

Herman Cain won the Florida straw poll this week. Cain is an amiable, fun and interesting guy (though he's always trying to sell me something for $9.99). But does anyone believe he's prepared for the presidency? Rep. Michele Bachmann embodies the uncompromising spirit of the tea party, but is she prepared to pull the rest of the country with her? Many others have various problems that we all know -- Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, et al.

When it comes down to it, there are two electable candidates.


David Harsanyi

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of "The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy." Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.